WeChat, China's favorite social media app, has hit one billion monthly active users. The platform managed to reach the milestone largely due to the popularity of its games and shopping services, particularly during the Lunar New Year in February. Pony Ma Huateng of Tencent, the app’s parent company head honcho, disclosed the impressive figure at a media briefing on Monday.
Known as Weixin in China, the mobile app offers more than just messaging services. Users are able to play games, send money, and even book appointments, making the all-in-one platform indispensable for Chinese citizens.
— ABC News (@abcnews) March 7, 2018
Amassing one billion users is a remarkable feat, but WeChat still lags far behind Facebook-owned WhatsApp, the messaging app favored by markets outside China. In February, Whatsapp reached 1.5 billion monthly users.
There’s a reason why WeChat was hailed the leading social media platform in China. The Chinese government’s move to ban Facebook, Twitter and other competitor platforms further boosted WeChat’s popularity in the country.
However, the Chinese market is fast reaching its saturation point, prompting Tencent to venture overseas. Based on estimates of wireless industry group GSMA, 98 percent of the country’s 1.4 billion population already have smartphones.
But WeChat’s plan to snag new users from other countries won't be easy since other countries already have preferred messaging platforms. WeChat has come late to the game where Facebook and other rivals have already cornered the market. Moreover, convincing existing app users to switch to WeChat will be quite a challenge, especially after monitoring accusations from Chinese businessman Li Shufu made the rounds.
Despite reaching the 1 billion-users mark, WeChat might not be looking outside for growth. According to Matthew Brennan of research firm ChinaChannel, the social media platform isn’t looking to further expand its user base but to tap into revenue-generating services. Encouraging existing WeChat users to spend time and money through the app is a convenient way for the platform to earn more.[Featured image via WeChat]